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Egypt journalists 'crushed like grains', women's rights group says

Authorities have clamped down on journalists [Getty]

Date of publication: 6 October, 2020

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The ‘Coalition for Women in Journalism’ released a damning statement accusing the Egyptian regime of 'crushing' independent journalists.
Independent journalists in Egypt are being "crushed like grains", a women's rights group said, in a statement calling for the urgent release of journalist Basma Mostafa.

The 'Coalition for Women in Journalism' said it is "appalled" by the detention of Mostafa and urged Egyptian authorities to release the journalist immediately. 

"Journalism is a tool that helps both the public and authorities to keep everyone accountable. Journalists like Basma are essential for transparency and accountability in the state. The state should cherish and support them instead of targeting and detaining them," the organisation said.

"Independent journalists in Egypt often face such charges for covering stories concerning state and military misconduct," the statement added.

Mostafa was brought before prosecutors on Sunday after going missing a day earlier when she reported on unrest in the village of Al-Awamya.

Her detention happened as she investigated the alleged killing of a man, by police, during a demonstration, according to her employer, the Al-Manassa news website.

"The prosecution ordered that she remains in jail for 15 days pending an investigation over charges of joining a terrorist group and spreading false news," her lawyer Hala Doma wrote on Facebook late Sunday.

Dozens of Egyptians took to the streets in several villages across the the country in September, according to videos shared widely on social media.

The demonstrations coincided with mounting anger, particularly in rural and low-income areas, over a sweeping government campaign against illegal construction, which have forced many Egyptians to pay fines to legalise home ownership.

The protests erupted after exiled businessman, Mohamed Ali, emerged as a vocal critic of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi last year, and called for protests against the government.

On Friday, London-based rights group, Amnesty International, said Egyptian authorities had arrested hundreds of protesters and that at least two people had been killed at the demonstrations.

Sisi, on Sunday, warned against attempts to "stoke instability" in the country. The general-turned-politician said the government was carrying out the campaign against illegal constructions as part of wider reforms.

But the Egyptian regime is known to have targeted journalists in an ongoing crackdown on dissent since the 2013 military ouster of Mohamed Morsi, the country's first democratically-elected president.

The clampdown has swept up thousands of Islamist supporters of the late Morsi as well as secular activists, lawyers and academics.

Egypt ranks 166th out of 180 countries in media watchdog Reporters Without Borders' 2020 world press freedom index.

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